Tokyo, Aug 18 (IANS) The Indian Womens Hockey team held the World No. 2 Australian team to a 2-2 draw on Sunday in their second round-robin match of the Olympic Test Event at the Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo.
The match saw India twice cancel Australia’s lead to earn themselves a hard fought draw with Kaitlin Nobbs (14′) and Grace Stewart (43′) scoring for the Australians, while Vandana Katariya (36′) and Gurjit Kaur (59′) scored for India.
World No. 10 India started the match aggressively, matching Australia’s attacking hockey with their own which saw both teams earn penalty corners, with neither managing to score. It was only in the 14th minute that Australia were awarded a penalty stroke after an Indian defender blocked a shot at goal. Australia’s Kaitlin Nobbs made no mistake in converting from the spot to give her side a 1-0 advantage.
The World No. 2 side dominated the second quarter completely, putting the Indian team under intense pressure through multiple attacks and penalty corners. But India’s defense held firm and goalkeeper Savita made a couple of great saves to deny her opponents as Australia took their lead into the half-time break.
The start of the third quarter again saw Australia dominate possession creating a couple of goal-scoring opportunities through penalty corners, with Savita, however, making fine saves again to deny the Australians.
On the other hand, it was India who struck on the break as Vandana Katariya finished off a superb team move to equalize in the 36th minute. But the lead did not last for much time as Australia started to look for their second goal. It was in the 43rd minute that they finally found a second through some exquisite team work, which saw Grace Stewart also registering herself on the score-sheet and giving Australia a 2-1 lead.
It was a tough ask for the Indian team as Australia played well, and did not give them enough space inside the striking circle. However, the World No. 10 team showed determination as they kept looking for the equalizer in the last quarter. With moves breaking down, and chances going begging, it looked like Australia would hold onto their 2-1 lead, but with just a couple of minutes remaining, India won themselves a crucial penalty corner in the 59th minute. India’s prolific drag-flicker Gurjit Kaur stepped up, and struck a sweet blow into the back of the net to earn her side a well-deserved draw.
The Indian Women’s Team will now face China on Tuesday, August 20 at 16.15 hours IST in their third and last round-robin match of the tournament.